(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 11)

before seen) was sufficiently in use. 
  47. "And Laban called it." Each, in his own language, gives a name, of 
the same signification, to the heap. Whence it appears, that Laban used 
the Syrian tongue, though born of the race of Heber. But it is not 
wonderful that he, dwelling among Syrians, should have accustomed 
himself to the language as well as to the manners of the Syrians. And a 
little before, he is twice called a Syrian; as if Moses would describe 
him as degenerate, and alienated from the Hebrews. But this seems by no 
means accordant with the previous history, where we read that the 
daughters of Laban gave Hebrew names to their sons. Yet the solution is 
not difficult; for since the affinity between these languages was great, 
the inflection of one word into another was easy: besides, if the wives 
of Jacob were tractable, it is not surprising that they should have 
learned his language. And beyond doubt, he would himself make a point of 
this matter: seeing he knew that his family was separated from the rest 
of the nations. Moses, in using the name of Galeed, does it 
proleptically; for since he was writing for his own times, he does not 
scruple to give it the generally received name. Moreover we hence infer, 
that ceremonies and rites ought to refer to that which those who use 
them mutually agree upon. Which rule also ought to be applied to the 
sacraments; because if the word by which God enters into covenant with 
us be taken away, useless and dead figures will alone remain. 
  49. "The Lord watch between me and thee." Laban commits to the 
judgment of God, for vengeance, whatever offense either of them should 
be guilty of against the other in his absence; as if he would say, " 
Though the knowledge of the injury should not reach me, because I shall 
be far distant, yet the Lord, who is everywhere present, will behold 
it." Which sentiment he more clearly expresses afterwards, when he says, 
"No one is with us; God will be witness between me and thee." By which 
words he means, that God will be a severe avenger of every wickedness, 
though there should be no judge upon earth to decide the cause. And 
certainly if there were any religion flourishing within us, the presence 
of God would influence us far more than the observation of men. But it 
arises from the brutal stupidity of our flesh, that we reverence men 
only; as if we might mock God with impunity, when we are not convicted 
by the testimony of men. If, then, this common feeling of nature 
dictated to Laban, that the frauds which were hidden from men would come 
into judgment before God; we who enjoy the light of the gospel should 
indeed be ashamed to seek a covert for our fallacies. Hence also, we 
gather the legitimate use of an oath, which the Apostle declares in his 
epistle to the Hebrews; namely, that men, in order to put an end to 
their controversies, resort to the judgment of God. 
  50. "If thou shalt take other wives besides my daughters." Laban 
declares that it would be a species of perfidy, if Jacob should take to 
himself any other wives. But he had himself compelled Jacob to the act 
of polygamy: for whence was it that the holy man had more wives than 
one, except that Leah had been craftily substituted in the place of 
Rachel? But he now, from a pure sentiment of nature, condemns the fault, 
of which, blinded by avarice, he had wickedly been the author. And 
certainly, when the bond of marriage is broken, than which none among 
men is more sacred, the whole of human society sinks into decay. 
Wherefore, those fanatical men, who, at this day, delight to defend 
polygamy, have no need of any other judge than Laban. 
  53. "The God of Abraham." It is indeed rightly and properly done, that 
Laban should adjure Jacob by the name of God. For this is the 
confirmation of covenants; to appeal to God on both sides, that he may 
not suffer perfidy to pass unpunished. But he sinfully blends idols with 
the true God, between whom there is nothing in common. Thus, truly, men 
involved in superstitions, are accustomed to confound promiscuously 
sacred things with profane, and the figments of men with the true God. 
He is compelled to give some honour to the God of Abraham, yet he lies 
plunged in his own idolatrous pollution; and, that his religion may not 
appear the worse, he gives it the colour of antiquity. For in calling 
him the God of his father, he boasts that this God was handed down to 
him from his ancestors. Meanwhile Jacob does not swear superstitiously. 
For Moses expressly declares, that he swats only by the "fear of Isaac;" 
whence we learn that he did not assent to the preposterous form of oath 
dictated by his father-in-law; no too many do, who, in order to gain the 
favour of the wicked, pretend to be of the same religion with them. But 
when once the only God is made known to us, we wickedly suppress his 
truth, unless by its light all the clouds of error are dispersed. 
  54. "And called his brethren to eat bread." In courteously receiving 
his kindred, by whom he had been ill-treated, as his guests, Jacob 
showed his kindness. Moses also intimates that it was by the special 
favour of God that, after the most dreadful storm which threatened the 
holy man with destruction, a placid serenity suddenly shone forth. To 
the same cause is to be assigned what immediately follows, that Laban 
departed in a friendly manner: for by this method the Lord openly 
manifested himself as the guardian of his servant, seeing that he 
wonderfully delivered him as a lost sheep out of the jaws of the wolf. 
And truly, not only was the fury of Laban appeased; but he put on 
paternal affection, as if he had been changed into a new man. 
  55. "And blessed them." The character of the person is here to be 
noticed, because Laban, who had lapsed from true piety, and was a man of 
unholy and wicked manners, yet retained the habit of giving his 
blessing. For we are hereby taught, that certain principles of divine 
knowledge remain in the hearts of the wicked, so that no excuse may be 
left to them on the ground of ignorance; for the custom of pronouncing a 
blessing arises hence, that men are certainly persuaded that God alone 
is the author of all good things. For although they may proudly arrogate 
what they please to themselves; yet when they return to their right 
mind, they are compelled, whether they will or no, to acknowledge that 
all good proceeds from God alone. 
Chapter XXXII. 
1 And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 
2 And when Jacob saw them, he said, This [is] God's host: and he called 
the name of that place Mahanaim. 
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land 
of Seir, the country of Edom. 
4 And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau; 
Thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed 
there until now: 
5 And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and 
womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in 
thy sight. 
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother 
Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. 
7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the 
people that [was] with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, 
into two bands; 
8 And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the 
other company which is left shall escape. 
9 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father 
Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to 
thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: 
10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the 
truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I 
passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. 
11 Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand 
of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, [and] the 
mother with the children. 
12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the 
sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. 
13 And he lodged there that same night; and took of that which came to 
his hand a present for Esau his brother; 
14 Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and 
twenty rams, 
15 Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, 
twenty she asses, and ten foals. 
16 And he delivered [them] into the hand of his servants, every drove by 
themselves; and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a 
space betwixt drove and drove. 
17 And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth 
thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose [art] thou? and whither goest thou? 
and whose [are] these before thee? 
18 Then thou shalt say, [They be] thy servant Jacob's; it [is] a present 
sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, also he [is] behind us. 
19 And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed 
the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye 
find him. 
20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob [is] behind us. For he 
said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and 
afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me. 
21 So went the present over before him: and himself lodged that night in 
the company. 
22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two 
womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok. 
23 And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he 
24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the 
breaking of the day. 
25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the 
hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, 
as he wrestled with him. 
26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not 
let thee go, except thou bless me. 
27 And he said unto him, What [is] thy name? And he said, Jacob. 
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for 
as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 
29 And Jacob asked [him], and said, Tell [me], I pray thee, thy name. 
And he said, Wherefore [is] it [that] thou dost ask after my name? And 
he blessed him there. 
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God 
face to face, and my life is preserved. 
31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted 
upon his thigh. 
32 Therefore the children of Israel eat not [of] the sinew which shrank, 
which [is] upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he 
touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew that shrank. 
1. "And Jacob went on his way." After Jacob has escaped from the hands 
of his father-in-law, that is, from present death, he meets with his 
brother, whose cruelty was as much, or still more, to be dreaded; for by 
the threats of this brother he had been driven from his country; and now 
no better prospect lies before him. He therefore proceeds with 
trepidation, as one who goes to the slaughter. Seeing, however, it was 
scarcely possible but that he should sink oppressed by grief, the Lord 
affords him timely succour; and prepares him for this conflict, as well 
as for others, in such a manner that he should stand forth a brave and 
invincible champion in them all. Therefore, that he may know himself to 
be defended by the guardianship of God, angels go forth to meet him, 
arranged in ranks on both sides. Hebrew interpreters think that the camp 
of the enemy had been placed on one side; and that the angels, or rather 
God, stood on the other. But it is much more probable, that angels were 
distributed in two camps on different sides of Jacob, that he might 
perceive himself to be everywhere surrounded and fortified by celestial 
troops; as in Psalm 34: 7, it is declared that angels, to preserve the 
worshippers of God, pitch their tents around them. Yet I am not 
dissatisfied with the opinion of those who take the dual number simply 
for the plural; understanding that Jacob was entirely surrounded with an 
army of angels. Now the use of this vision was twofold; for, first, 
since the holy man was very anxious about the future, the Lord designed 
early to remove this cause of terror from him; or, at least, to afford 
him some alleviation, lest he should sink under temptation. Secondly, 
God designed, when Jacob should have been delivered from his brother, so 
to fix the memory of the past benefit in his mind, that it should never 
be lost. We know how prone men are to forget the benefits of God. Even 
while God is stretching out his hand to help them, scarcely one out of a 
hundred raises his eyes towards heaven. Therefore it was necessary that 
the visible protection of God should be placed before the eyes of the 
holy man; so that, as in a splendid theatre, he might perceive that he 
had been lately delivered, not by chance, out of the hand of Laban; but 
that he had the angels of God fighting for him; and might certainly 
hope, that their help would be ready for him against the attempts of his 
brother; and finally, that, when the danger was surmounted, he might 
remember the protection he had received from them. This doctrine is of 
use to us all, that we may learn to mark the invisible presence of God 
in his manifested favours. Chiefly, however, it was necessary that the 
holy man should be furnished with new weapons to endure the approaching 
contest. He did not know whether his brother Esau had been changed for 
the better or the worse. But he would rather incline to the suspicion 
that the sanguinary man would devise nothing but what was hostile. 
Therefore the angels appear for the purpose of confirming his faith in 
future, not less than for that of calling past favours to his 
remembrance. The number of these angels also encourages him not a 
little: for although a single angel would suffice as a guardian for us, 
yet the Lord acts more liberally towards us. Therefore they who think 
that each of us is defended by one angel only, wickedly depreciate the 
kindness of God. And there is no doubt that the devil, by this crafty 
device, has endeavoured, in some measure, to diminish our faith. The 
gratitude of the holy man is noted by Moses, in the fact that he assigns 
to the place a name, (Galeed,) as a token of perpetual remembrance. 
  3. "And Jacob sent messengers." It now happened, by the providence of 
God, that Esau, having left his father, had gone to Mount Seir of his 
own accord; and had thus departed from the land of promise, by which 
means the possession of it would remain void for the posterity of Jacob, 
without slaughter among brethren. For it was not to be believed that he 
had changed his habitation, either because he was compelled by his 
father's command, or because he was willing to be accounted inferior to 
his brother. I rather conjecture that he had become greatly enriched, 
and that this induced him to leave his father's house. For we know that 
profane persons and men of this world so vehemently pant for present 
advantages, that when anything offers itself in accordance with their 
desire, they are hurried towards it with a brutish impetuosity. Esau was 
imperious and ferocious; he was incensed against his mother; had shaken 
off all reverence for his father, and knew that he was himself also 
obnoxious to them both: his wives were engaged in incessant contentions; 
it seemed to him hard and troublesome, to be in the condition of a child 
in the family, when he was now advancing to old age; for proud men do 
not regard themselves as free, so long as any one has the preeminence 
over them. Therefore, in order to pass his life free from the authority 
of others, he chose to live in a state of separation from his father; 
and, allured by this attraction, he disregarded the promised 
inheritance, and left the place for his brother. I have said that this 
was done by the divine will: for God himself declares by Malachi, that 
it was by a species of banishment that Esau was led to Mount Seir. 
(Mal.1:3) For although he departed voluntarily, yet, by the secret 
counsel of God was he deprived of that land which he had earnestly 
desired. But, attracted by the present lust of dominion, he was blinded 
in his choice; since the land of Seir was mountainous and rugged, 
destitute of fertility and pleasantness. Moreover, he would appear to 
himself a great man, in giving his own name to the country. 
Nevertheless, it is probable that Moses called that country the land of 
Edom by the figure prolepsis, because it afterwards began to be so 
called. The question now occurs, Whence did Jacob know that his brother 
dwelt in that region? Though I assert nothing as certain; yet the 
conjecture is probable, that he had been informed of it by his mother; 
for, in the great number of her servants, a faithful messenger would not 
be wanting. And it is easily gathered from the words of Moses, that 
Jacob, before he had entered the land, knew the fact respecting the new 
residence of his brother. And we know that many things of this kind were 
omitted by Moses, which may easily suggest themselves to the mind of the 
  4. "Thus shall ye speak unto my lord Esau." Moses here relates the 

anxiety of Jacob to appease his brother. For this suppliant deprecation 
was extorted only by great and severe torture of mind. It seems, 
however, to be an absurd submission, whereby he cedes to his brother 
that dominion for which he had contended at the hazard of his life. For 
if Esau has the primogeniture, what does Jacob reserve for himself? For 
what end did he bring upon himself such hatred, expose himself to such 
dangers, and at length endure twenty years of banishment, if he does not 
refuse to be in subjection to his brother? I answer, that though he 
gives up the temporal dominion, he yields nothing of his right to the 
secret benediction. He knows that the effect of the divine promise is 
still suspended: and therefore, being content with the hope of the 
future inheritance, he does not hesitate, at present, to prefer his 
brother in honour to himself, and to profess himself his brother's 
servant. Nor was there anything feigned in these words; because he was 
willing to bear his brother on his shoulders; so that he might not lose 
his own future right, which was as yet concealed. 
  5. "I have oxen." Jacob does not proclaim his riches for the sake of 
boasting, but that by this method Esau might be inclined to humanity. 
For it would have been exceedingly disgraceful, cruelly to drive away 
one who had been enriched, by the favour of God, in a distant land. 
Besides, he cuts off occasion of future emulation: for if he had come 
empty and famishing, Esau might conceive fresh indignation against him, 
through fear of the expense which might be entailed on himself. 
Therefore Jacob declares, that he does not come for the purpose of 
consuming his father's substance, nor of being made rich by his 
brother's ruin: as if he had said, "Let thy earthly inheritance be 
secure; thy claim shall not be injured by me; only suffer me to live." 
By this example we are taught in what way we are to cultivate peace with 
the wicked. The Lord does not indeed forbid us to defend our own right, 
so far as our adversaries allow; but we must rather recede from that 
right, than originate contention by our own fault. 
  6. "And the messengers returned." Esau advances to meet his brother 
with a feeling of benevolence: but Jacob, reflecting on his cruel 
ferocity, inflated spirits, and savage threats, expects no humanity from 
him. And the Lord willed that the mind of his servant should be 
oppressed by this anxiety for a time, although without any real cause, 
in order the more to excite the fervour of his prayer. For we know what 
coldness, on this point, security engenders. Therefore, lest our faith, 
being stirred up by no stimulants, should become torpid, God often 
suffers us to fear things which are not terrible in themselves. For 
although he anticipates our wishes, and opposes our evils, he yet 
conceals his remedies until he has exercised our faith. Meanwhile it is 
to be noted, that the sons of God are never endued with a constancy so 
steadfast, that the infirmity of the flesh does not betray itself in 
them. For they who fancy that faith is exempt from all fear, have had no 
experience of the true nature of faith. For God does not promise that he 
will be present with us for the purpose of removing the sense of our 
dangers, but in order that fear may not prevail, and overwhelm us in 
despair. Moreover our faith is never so firm at every point, as to repel 
wicked doubts and sinful fears, in the way that might be wished. 
  7. "And he divided the people." Moses relates that Jacob formed his 
plans according to the existing state of affairs. He divides his family 
into two parts, and puts his maids in the foremost place, that they may 
bear the first assault, if necessary; but he places his free wives 
further from the danger. Hence indeed we gather, that Jacob was not so 
overcome with fear as to be unable to arrange his plans. We know that 
when a panic seizes the mind, it is deprived of discretion; and they who 
ought to look after their own concerns, become stupid and inanimate. 
Therefore it proceeded from the spirit of faith that Jacob interposed a 
certain space between the two parts of his family, in order that if any 
destruction approached, the whole seed of the Church might not perish. 
For by this scheme, he offered the half of his family to the slaughter, 
that, at length, the promised inheritance might come to the remainder 
who survived. 
  9. O God of my father Abraham." Having arranged his affairs as the 
necessity of the occasion suggested, he now retakes himself to prayer. 
And this prayer is evidence that the holy man was not so oppressed with 
fear as to prevent faith from proving victorious. For he does not, in a 
hesitating manner, commend himself and his family to God; but trusting 
both to God's promises and to the benefits already received, he casts 
his cares and his troubles into his heavenly Father's bosom. We have 
declared before, what is the point aimed at in assigning these titles to 
God; in calling God the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac, and what 
the terms mean; namely, that since men are so far removed from God, that 
they cannot, by their own power, ascend to his throne, he himself comes 
down to the faithful. God in thus calling himself the God of Abraham and 
Isaac, graciously invites their son Jacob to himself: for, access to the 
God of his fathers was not difficult to the holy man. Again, since the 
whole world had sunk under superstition, God would have himself to be 
distinguished from all idols, in order that he might retain an elect 
people in his own covenant. Jacob, therefore, in expressly addressing 
God as the God of his fathers, places fully before himself the promises 
given to him in their person, that he may not pray with a doubtful mind, 
but may securely rely on this stay, that the heir of the promised 
blessing will have God propitious towards him. And indeed we must seek 
the true rule of prayer in the word of God, that we may not rashly break 
through to Him, but may approach him in the manner in which he has 
revealed himself to us. This appears more clearly from the adjoining 
context, where Jacob, recalling the command and promise of God to 
memory, is supported as by two pillars. Certainly the legitimate method 
of praying is, that the faithful should answer to God who calls them; 
and thus there is such a mutual agreement between his word and their 
vows, that no sweeter and more harmonious symphony can be imagined. "O 
Lord," he says, "I return at thy command: thou also didst promise 
protection to me returning; it is therefore right that thou shouldest 
become the guide of my journey." This is a holy boldness, when, having 
discharged our duty according to God's calling, we familiarly ask of him 
whatsoever he has promised; since he, by binding himself gratuitously to 
us, becomes in a sense voluntarily our debtor. But whoever, relying on 
no command or promise of God, offers his prayers, does nothing but cast 
vain and empty words into the air. This passage gives stronger 
confirmation to what has been said before, that Jacob did not falsely 
pretend to his wives, that God had commanded him to return. For if he 
had then spoken falsely, no ground of hope would now be left to him. But 
he does not scruple to approach the heavenly tribunal with this 
confidence, that he shall be protected by the hand of God, under whose 
auspices he had ventured to return to the land of Canaan. 
  10. "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies." Although this 
expression sounds harsh to Latin ears, the sense is not obscure. Jacob 
confesses, that greater mercies of God had been heaped upon him than he 
had dared to hope for: and therefore, far be it from him that he should 
plead anything of dignity or merit, for the purpose of obtaining what he 
asks. He therefore says, that he is less than God's favours; because he 
felt himself to be unworthy of those excellent gifts which the Lord had 
so liberally bestowed upon him. Moreover, that the design of the holy 
patriarch may more clearly appear, the craft of Satan is to be observed: 
for, in order to deter us from praying, through a sense of our 
unworthiness, he would suggest to us this thought, "Who art thou that 
thou shouldst dare to enter into the presence of God?" Jacob early 
anticipates this objection, in declaring beforehand that he is unworthy 
of God's former gifts, and at the same time acknowledges that God is not 
like men, in ever becoming weary to continue and increase his acts of 
kindness. Meanwhile, Jacob collects materials for confidence from the 
fact, that he has so often found God benignant towards him. Therefore, 
he had a double end in view; first, because he wished to counteract the 
distrust which might steal upon him in consequence of the magnitude of 
God's gifts; and then, he turns those gifts to a different purpose, to 
assure himself that God would be the same to him that he had hitherto 
been. He uses two words, mercies and truth, to show that God is inclined 
by his mere goodness to benefit us; and in this way proves his own 
faithfulness. This combination of mercy with truth frequently occurs in 

the Scriptures, to teach us that all good things flow to us through the 
gratuitous favour of God; but that we are made capable of receiving 
them, when by faith we embrace his promises. 
  "For with my staff." Jacob does not enumerate separately the mercies 
of God, but under one species comprises the rest; namely, that whereas 
he had passed over Jordan, a poor and solitary traveller, he now returns 
rich, and replenished with abundance. The antithesis between a staff and 
two troops is to be noticed; in which he compares his former solitude 
and poverty with his present affluence. 
  11. "Deliver me." After he has declared himself to be bound by so many 
of God's benefits that he cannot boast of his own merits, and thus 
raised his mind to higher expectation, he now mentions his own 
necessity, as if he would say, "O Lord, unless thou choosest to reduce 
so many excellent gifts to nothing, now is the time for thee to succour 
one, and to avert the destruction which, through my brother, is 
suspended over me." But having thus expressed his fear, he adds a clause 
concerning the blessing promised him, that he may confirm himself in the 
promises made to him. To slay the mother with the children, I suppose to 
have been a proverbial saying among the Jews, which means to leave 
nothing remaining. It is a metaphor taken from birds, when hawks seize 
the young with their dams, and empty the whole nest. 
  13. "And took of that which came to his hand." In endeavouring to 
appease his brother by presents, he does not act distrustfully, as if he 
doubted whether he should be safe under the protection of God. This, 
indeed, is a fault too common among men, that when they have prayed to 
God, they turn themselves hither and thither, and contrive vain 
subterfuges for themselves: whereas the principal advantage of prayer 
is, to wait for the Lord in silence and quietness. But the design of the 
holy man was not to busy and to vex himself, as one discontented with 
the sole help of God. For although he was certainly persuaded that to 
have God propitious to him would alone be sufficient, yet he did not 
omit the use of the means which were in his power, while leaving success 
in the hand of God. For though by prayer we cast our cares upon God, 
that we may have peaceful and tranquil minds; yet this security ought 
not to render us indolent. For the Lord will have all the aids which he 
affords us applied to use. But the diligence of the pious differs 
greatly from the restless activity of the world; because the world, 
relying on its own industry, independently of the blessing of God, does 
not consider what is right or lawful; moreover it is always in 
trepidation, and by its bustling, increases more and more its own 
disquietude. The pious, however, hoping for the success of their labour, 
only from the mercy of God, apply their minds in seeking out means, for 
this sole reason, that they may not bury the gifts of God by their own 
torpor. When they have discharged their duty, they still depend on the 
same grace of God; and when nothing remains which they can attempt, they 
nevertheless are at rest. 
  14. "Two hundred she-goats." Hence we perceive the value which Jacob 
set upon the promise given to him, seeing he does not refuse to make so 
great a sacrifice of his property. We know that those things which are 
obtained with great toil and trouble are the more highly esteemed. So 
that general]y they who are enriched by their own labour are 
proportionally sparing and tenacious. It was, however, no trivial 
diminution even of great wealth, to give forty cows, thirty camels with 
their young, twenty bulls, and as many asses with their foals, two 
hundred she-goats, and as many sheep, with twenty rams, and the same 
number of he-goats. But Jacob freely lays upon himself this tax, that he 
may obtains a safe return to his own country. Certainly it would not 
have been difficult to find some nook where he might live with his 
property entire: and an equally commodious habitations might have been 
found elsewhere. But, that he might not lose the benefit of the promise, 
he purchases, at so great a price, from his brother, a peaceable abode 
in the land of Canaan. Therefore should we be ashamed of our effeminacy 
and tardiness, who wickedly turn aside from the duty of our calling, as 
soon as any loss is to be sustained. With a clear and loud voice the 
Lord commands us to do what he pleases; but some, because they find it 
troublesome to take up their burdens, lie in idleness; pleasures also 
keep back some; riches or honours impede others; finally, few follow 
God, because scarcely one in a hundred will bear to be losers. In 
putting a space between the messengers, and in sending them at different 
times from each other, he does it to mitigate by degrees the ferocity of 
his brother: Whence we infer again, that he was not so seized with fear, 
as to be unable prudently to order his affairs. 
  22. "And he rose up that night." After he has prayed to the Lord, and 
arranged his plans, he now takes confidence and meets the danger. By 
which example the faithful are taught, that whenever any danger 
approaches, this order of proceeding is to be observed; first, to resort 
directly to the Lord; secondly, to apply to immediate use whatever means 
of help may offer themselves; and thirdly, as persons prepared for any 
event, to proceed with intrepidity whithersoever the Lord commands. So 
Jacob, that he might not fail in this particular, does not dread the 
passage which he perceives to be full of hazard, but, as with closed 
eyes, pursues his course. Therefore, after his example, we must overcome 
anxiety in intricate affairs, lest we should be hindered or retarded in 
our duty. He remains alone,--having sent forward his wives and 
children,--not that he might himself escape if he heard of their 
destruction, but because solitude was more suitable for prayer. And 
there is no doubt that, fearing the extremity of his peril, he was 
completely carried away with the ardour of supplication to God. 
  24. "There wrestled a man with him." Although this vision was 
particularly useful to Jacob himself, to teach him beforehand that many 
conflicts awaited him, and that he might certainly conclude that he 
should be the conqueror in them all; there is yet not the least doubt 
that the Lord exhibited, in his person, a specimen of the temptations-- 
common to all his people--which await them, and must be constantly 
submitted to, in this transitory life. Wherefore it is right to keep in 
view this designs of the vision, which is to represent all the servants 
of God in this world as wrestlers; because the Lord exercises them with 
various kinds of conflicts. Moreover, it is not said that Satan, or any 
mortal man, wrestled with Jacob, but God himself: to teach us that our 
faith is tried by him; and whenever we are tempted, our business is 
truly with him, not only because we fight under his auspices, but 
because he, as an antagonist, descends into the arena to try our 
strength. This, though at first sight it seems absurd, experience and 
reason teaches us to be true. For as all prosperity flows from his 
goodness, so adversity is either the rod with which he corrects our 
sins, or the test of our faith and patience. And since there is no kind 
of temptations by which God does not try his faithful people, the 
similitude is very suitable, which represents him as coming, hand to 
hand, to combat with them. Therefore, what was once exhibited under a 
visible form to our father Jacob, is daily fulfilled in the individual 
members of the Church; namely, that, in their temptations, it is 
necessary for them to wrestle with God. He is said, indeed, to tempt us 
in a different manner from Satan; but because he alone is the Author of 
our crosses and afflictions, and he alone creates light and darkness, 
(as is declared in Isaiah,) he is said to tempt us when he makes a trial 
of our faith. But the question now occurs, Who is able to stand against 
an Antagonist, at whose breath alone all flesh perishes and vanishes 
away, at whose look the mountains melt, at whose word or beck the whole 
world is shaken to pieces, and therefore to attempt the least contest 
with him would be insane temerity? But it is easy to untie the knot. For 
we do not fight against him, except by his own power, and with his own 
weapons; for he, having challenged us to this contest, at the same time 
furnishes us with means of resistance, so that he both fights against us 
and for us. In short, such is his apportioning of it is conflict, that, 
while he assails us with one hand, he defends us with the other; yea, 
inasmuch as he supplies us with more strength to resist than he employs 
in opposing us, we may truly and properly say, that he fights against us 
with his left hand, and for us with his right hand. For while he lightly 
opposes us, he supplies invincible strength whereby we overcome. It is 
true he remains at perfect unity with himself: but the double method in 
which he deals with us cannot be otherwise expressed, than that in 
striking us with a human rod, he does not put forth his full strength in 
the temptation; but that in granting the victory to our faith, he 
becomes in us stronger than the power by which he opposes us. And 
although these forms of expression are harsh, yet their harshness will 
be easily mitigated in practice. For if temptations are contests, (and 
we know that they are not accidental, but are divinely appointed for 
us,) it follows hence, that God acts in the character of an antagonist, 
and on this the rest depends; namely, that in the temptation itself he 

(continued in part 12...)

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